“Ammon Could Not Be Slain”

Monte S. Nyman

As mentioned above, Ammon had experienced a conversion very similar to the king. As a truly born again person Ammon had labored, as had Alma, his friend, “without ceasing to bring souls unto repentance” (Alma 36:24). Ammon’s recounting of his former days, and the answer to his prayers in behalf of his Lamanites brethren, brought him to his knees in thanksgiving. While in this position he was overpowered by the Spirit (Alma 19:14). These three—Alma, the king, and the queen—were soon joined by all of the servants falling to the ground except one (vv. 15–16). These events are recounted here to help us picture what it must have looked like to those who gathered. The Lord does work in mysterious ways to bring salvation to his people.

Before commenting on the reaction of seeing many people lying about as if they were dead, we must say a word about Abish, the Lamanite who was the only one left standing among those who had been overcome by the Spirit. She is one of only three women named in the Book of Mormon record, in addition to Mary the mother of Jesus. Sariah, the wife of Lehi and mother of the Nephite nation, is the first one named (1 Nephi 2:5). Abish is the second one named (Alma 19:16). She had undoubtedly been selected in the pre-mortal world to help prepare the way for a restoration among the Lamanites at this period of time. Imagine her frustration, her courage, and her patience as she awaited the right opportunity to move forward a work that she must had anticipated for many years (v. 17). She saw this time as the opportunity for which she had been waiting and moved forward. Mormon inserts a precept for us to learn, he says, “Thus the work of the Lord did commence among the Lamanites; thus the Lord did begin to pour out his Spirit upon them” (Alma 19:36). Daniel H. Ludlow has suggested two possible interpretations of the account of Abish. “One interpretation is that Abish herself had this vision and in her vision she saw her father. Another possible interpretation is that the vision was actually had by the father of Abish. Regardless of which interpretation is correct, this conversion of Abish plays an important role in converting large numbers of Lamanites.” Abish was certainly one who had been sent to prepare the way. We will someday learn more about her and her faithful father as well.

The mixed reaction of the gathering group beholding the prostrate people should have been expected from previous reactions to the Nephite coming among them. Some blamed it on Ammon the Nephite (v. 19). Some blamed it on the king (v. 20). Another group saw it as an opportunity to get revenge on Ammon for spoiling their evil practice of stealing from the king’s flock (v. 21). One of this group went too far, and in his attempt to slay Ammon had his own life taken by the hand of the Lord (v. 22). Once more we see the personal and individual blessing of a missionary come to pass. The Lord promised Ammon’s father, King Mosiah, that his son would not be slain (v. 23). The Lord always keeps his promises when we do what he says. Mosiah and his son had done what the Lord said (see D&C 82:10). The Lord was preparing the multitude for another miraculous experience that would convert many more (Alma 19:24).

Book of Mormon Commentary: The Record of Alma